A STRATHAVEN Academy pupil enjoyed what she described as the “trip of a lifetime” recently when she was among a group of Scottish teenagers selected to take part in this year’s Euroscola.
Sixth year pupil and school vice-captain Laura Danskin was sponsored by Strathaven Rotary Club to spend five days in Strasbourg learning about the European Parliament and meeting young people from the 25 European Union countries.
The aim of the Euroscola programme is to bring together secondary school students from throughout the European Union and to enable them to gain an insight into the workings of the European Parliament while learning about the lives, views and expectations of young people from other EU countries.
A group of about 500 students from all over the European Union is invited to spend a day in Strasbourg discussing the effects European integration will have on their future. The majority of Euroscola days are for students aged 16-18 but a few days each year are set aside for the 14-16 age group.
Speaking of her experiences, Laura said: “On Monday, January 24, I set off on a trip of a lifetime to Strasbourg to take part in Euroscola 2011.
“After having endured a difficult selection process, including writing an essay on a current European issue and an interview, I was chosen to represent Scotland along with 24 other Scottish pupils in the Euroscola Day.
“On Monday morning, we all made our way to Edinburgh airport to begin our week’s journey together.
“We spent our first full day, Tuesday, preparing for an even more challenging experience: the dreaded ‘sondage’ (survey). This activity included asking local French people about their knowledge of Scotland and Europe as a whole. According to most, we are all bagpipers who are permanently kitted out in kilts!
“That evening, we enjoyed tasting typical regional dishes such as Tarte Flambée, an Alsatian speciality which is a really thin pizza base covered with crème fraîche and thinly sliced onions.
“On Wednesday, we all participated in the Strasbourg Challenge, in which we were instructed to research various aspects of the town. We approached the task in an Apprentice-type manner, attending interviews with experts, doing research in the tourist office and preparing our presentations over a “chocolat chaud”. Later in the evening, we began to prepare ourselves for the focal point of the entire trip: the Euroscola Day.”
Laura continued: “On Thursday morning, we set off for the prestigious venue of the European Parliament. We entered the breathtaking building and enjoyed breakfast with students representing 19 other nationalities, taking the opportunity to invite guests to our ceilidh night. The Euroscola Day was an incredible experience as we were given the opportunity to vote, express our opinions on current issues and ask questions to Parliament officials, while enjoying linguistic challenges and meeting lots of interesting new people.
“That evening, we all got dressed up for our highly anticipated ceilidh evening. This was a wonderful event as we were joined by guests of many other nationalities and everybody thoroughly enjoyed an amazing night.
“Our wonderful journey came to a close on Friday, January 28, when we all travelled home and said our long goodbyes.
“I am so proud to have represented my school and country in such a high-profile event. Many thanks to the Rotary Club of Strathaven for sponsoring my trip.”